Phil Collins

Bring Down The Walls





88 min.

A scene from a dance floor: several PoC dancing close together.
A snapshot from inside an auditorium at an event. In the background, neon letters read "Bring down the walls".
A photo of a discussion event on a stage with audience members.

Over the last five decades the prison population in the United States has soared to more than two million. Through privatisation and disproportionate targeting of people of colour, the marginalised and the poor, the justice system has been used as a tool of oppression and a source of corporate profit. Today, “the land of the free” is the world’s biggest jailer. Coinciding with the escalation of mass incarceration in the 1980s, a new dance culture emerged from Black, Latinx and queer communities embattled by criminal and law enforcement policies.

“Bring Down The Walls” by Phil Collins looks at the prison industrial complex in the US and the movement for prison abolition through the lens of house music and nightlife, proposing the dance floor as a space of personal and collective liberation, and new ways in which we could come together as a society. Following its presentation at over two dozen international festivals, a German online premiere at HAU4 to commemorate the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and a theatrical run at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, “Bring Down The Walls” returns to HAU for a special in-person screening.

“The US prison system represents a staggering 25% of the global prison population. There is no question that mass incarceration devastates entire communities and disproportionately punishes people of colour and the poor. In a country which defines itself on the tenets of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ it is painfully clear that this is in no way indicates progress but instead sustains structural inequality and a hatred of those with the least. It fundamentally damages the lives of millions and is a problem which should be important to us all.” – Phil Collins


Directed by: Phil Collins / Produced by: Siniša Mitrović / Music: Larry Heard, Robert Owens & Cameron Holmes; Empress Of & Michael Austin; Figure Skater & King Tolen; Nguzunguzu & Cinthia Candelaria; Kyp Malone & Robert Pollock; MikeQ, Ian Isiah & Amanda Cruz; L’Rain, Morgan Wiley & Patrick Gordon / Voiceover: Robert Owens / Featuring: Bianca Van Heydorn, Pilar Maschi, Pedro Colazzo, James “Moe” Torres, Denis Martinez, Isaias Umali, Ivan Calaf, Shedrick Blackwell, Reuben Jonathan Miller, Jay Holder, Abigail Adams, Gladys Pizzaro, Michael Roberson, Jasmine Moore, Jarrell Daniels, Yolanda Daniels, Amanda Cruz, Cameron Holmes, Heather Ann Thompson, i.a. / Club nights: Soul Summit, House of Vogue, Brujas, Papi Juice / Editor: Stefan Ramiréz Pérez / Sound mix & sound design: Jochen Jezussek / German translation: Christina Gauglitz / Production: Shady Lane Productions


  • Past
    Tue 25.5.2021, 19:00 / HAU4
    Wed 8.12.2021, 20:00 / HAU1

Afterwards: Phil Collins in conversation with Robert Owens (English)


Commissioned by: Creative Time, New York. In partnership with: The Fortune Society. Supported by Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain, Montréal QC. German subtitles supported by HAU Hebbel am Ufer.


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